When I was going to compete recently, there were a number of things not in my favour:

  • My first fight was against a longer term black belt with a strong reputation.
  • I had a former coach and key training partner as my second fight in the draw, while they had a bye in the first round. They are a strong, aggressive fighter with significantly more submissions on me than I had on them, and I had none on them in competition, whereas they had some on me.
  • I had an ultrasound that showed I had ruptured my bicep, and only had 5% of the bicep tendon remaining, two days before flying out to compete.
  • My nearest and dearest didn’t want me to compete in the fear that I would be further injure my bicep.
  • I was moved to a younger age division, as there were no competitors at my age.
  • I weighed in 4 kg under weight for the division.

As it turned out, I got a good result. It is too easy to look at the outcome and subscribe to a simple win/loss mentality. “I won, so it doesn’t matter so much how I won, but that I won”. Conversely, “I lost so it doesn’t matter how much effort I put in, or how hard I battled, but it’s a loss and it was all for nothing”.

Regardless of the outcome, I believe it is important to face the adversity rather than shrink from it. Any of these things could have been enough to dissuade me from competing. Unconsciously we are always looking for an easy path, an excuse for why we can’t do something. “I want to go to training, but I had a hard day at work”. “I don’t have the energy to get off the couch”. I find the days I feel least like training, can be the most rewarding. The adversity can be all the things in your life demanding your time and attention, before having the time and energy for training.

Adversity sharpens your character. As steel sharpens steel, the stronger the adversity, the stronger your resolve must be, the stronger your character will become.

I don’t suggest you necessarily welcome adversity, but when it appears, know that it is a war of attrition. Will you outlast adversity, or will adversity outlast you?

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